Islam, like many religions, is in part based on the interpretation of a holy text. For Muslims, that holy text is the Quran. This 1,400 year old text is divided into chapters called suras, which are further divided into verses called ayahs. These suras and ayahs form the basis for the Islamic faith.
According to Muslim beliefs, the Quran is the complete and unaltered word of Allah. This text was transmitted to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of almost 23 years. The Quran was completed the year that Muhammad died in 609 A.D. Muslims believe that, because the Quran is unaltered, it is perfect and has not been modified by fallible human hands. That said, there are ayahs in the Quran that require some interpretation, and there is considerable debate surrounding what these verses mean, especially in the modern world.
The sad reality is that there is a group of Muslims who use the ayahs of the Quran to justify their evil actions. These truly monstrous interpretations are then spread across the world. The ayahs themselves are then seen by outsiders to be malicious when it is the cruel and malevolent humans who should be blamed.
As with any ancient text, the ayahs and suras should be understood within the context in which they were created. Nearly half of the Quran deals with a time when Muslims were either being persecuted by or at war with their neighbors. Focusing on the words of the ayah and ignoring the context it was created in is a surefire way to misinterpret the ayah. Here are four ayahs that are often misunderstood or taken out of context.